Metamorphosis. The New Normal
It’s like the Universe sent us all to our rooms to think
about what we have done.
I thought I was prepared for anything life decided to throw at me. I thought I had the tools to handle any crisis, any problem. I’d navigated my life breaking apart so many times, I felt like a pro at putting shit back together in what would become my “new normal.”
I was a bit cocky, apparently. Life decided to humble me in a big way. Because I am looking around my inner world, the world around me, and the world at large, and have realized one startling discovery – I have absolutely no idea what to do. I can’t fix this problem. I can’t attack it head-on as I would normally because this time – it’s completely different.
I’ve read articles. I’ve watched the news. I’ve watched the briefings. Listened to experts. Watched as people panicked and bought up the world’s supply of toilet paper and sanitizer. I was prepared with tangible items, groceries, medicines, coffee because I am always prepared with this stuff.
I wasn’t prepared to see the entire world fall apart.
Many have written their thoughts about what is going on with this virus as they’ve had them. Constantly spewing theories, coping methods, ideas, conspiracy theories, and everything in between. I did what I always do in the face of adversity. Retreat inside my head. Spend time with the darkness. Spend as much time as I could navigating each avenue of thought that arose inside my soul. As much as I wanted to fight the emotions that were swelling and ignore them completely, I just couldn’t. I’ve never been one for rose-colored glasses. I also lack the ability to lie to myself to make myself feel better.
One thing life has taught me is never to fear the darkness. While I may approach it with trepidation and cautiously wander through it, I will always confront it head-on. The lessons we all need are in the darkness. Learning those lessons shines the light. Embracing the lessons, regardless of how painful they are, is how we push the darkness back. How we live after is what will keep the darkness at bay.
For the past week, I have wandered the darkness. Instead of fighting the fear and anxiety, I gave myself space to feel it all. To say it was scary and uncomfortable is an understatement. I could often feel my rational brain fighting with my heart. My gut has been clenched for days. I fear for my loved ones and friends on the front lines. I’ve raged at the lack of leadership in this crisis. I’ve been disappointed in how some of humanity is taking advantage of this situation. I’ve been saddened to see how many young people disregarded the warnings of transmission, spitting in the face of every person at risk.
But then I started to look at how others were handling this crisis and became awestruck at the resiliency and kindness of humans. When faced with an unimaginable set of circumstances – humanity stepped back, got creative with ways they could make this work, and got busy finding alternatives to how things have always been done. Teachers, within days, have gone to remote learning for their students. Bars and restaurants have acclimated to the need for social distancing and created ways to feed the hungry and support their staff. Bookstores are doing curbside service for people who need the escape of beautiful stories. Grocery stores setting aside times for the most vulnerable to shop safely. School bus drivers are filling their buses with food instead of children and making deliveries, so none go hungry. Pharmacies are making deliveries to keep people safe. Authors around the globe are giving their books away for free. Musicians doing remote concerts from their living rooms, to give people something to get excited about. Mothers are reaching out to mothers on how to handle the new role of homeschool teachers, and educational vendors remotely giving the tools needed to help them. Museums and zoos are doing remote tours so people can virtually wander around and experience something new.
Humanity is stepping up in ways it never has before, and it is beautiful.
It’s clear to me that something much bigger than all of us is at work here. I will not label it, because for everyone reading this, it is called something different, but I can see it, feel it, and be amazed by it. I am seeing people come together from every single aspect of society. This virus doesn’t give a shit if you’re wealthy, democrat or republican, doesn’t care if you’re black, white, Asian, German, English, or Australian. For the first time ever – everyone on this planet, all 7.7 Billion, is fighting to stop a common enemy in order to protect all of humanity.
I read a post on Facebook the other day that stated, “It’s like the Universe sent us all to our rooms to think about what we have done.” This virus is showing us all the ways we have been broken, and it is forcing us to look at our entire lives in a different light, to see ways that we can do and be better humans.
Will life resume? Yes, I believe it will. Will it look the same? For some, probably, but for the vast majority, no, I don’t think it will. COVID-19 has changed all of us. This virus has changed how we look at every single facet of life. It has changed how we live, how we act, and how we love. It has forced people who have been so caught up in the rat race, so caught up in getting as much as they can, to stop suddenly and realize with the threat of death looming for all of us – priorities suddenly shift.
I dreamed the other night about metamorphosis. How, when it’s time for a caterpillar to transform, it finds a place to settle, spins itself a silky cocoon, and starts the process of radically transforming its entire being. Once the transformation is complete, it reemerges as a beautiful butterfly, able to reach heights the caterpillar could only dream about. It was within that chrysalis the caterpillar discards all the old parts that no longer serve him, undergoing a radical transformation that will change its entire existence.
It is called metamorphosis, and in a way, this process is happening to all of us.
We are sequestered in our homes. We are discarding ways that no longer work, finding new ways to move forward, acclimating, and changing rapidly. It is messy, and it is scary, we have no idea what the outcome is going to look like. Yet, here we are, doing it. We are all currently in the breakdown process, and just as the caterpillar must die in order to be reborn, parts of who we were before this virus must die out. It is frightening and sad and a horrible feeling that we’ve lost all control over our existence. But, if we are all honest with ourselves, it wouldn’t have happened if we had been left to our own devices to start this evolution.
This virus forced every single person on this planet to step back, reassess, and change. It doesn’t care if you’re not ready; it doesn’t care how hard it is going to be for everyone. It is forcing the biggest life lesson on the entire human race, whether it wants it or not.
Am I scared? Yes, of course, I am. Daily life is rapidly changing things I’ve taken for granted, like grocery stores being fully stocked, and the ability to buy toilet paper when I needed, are no longer something I don’t need to worry about. I fear the lives lost and the grief-stricken families who cannot even begin to process their grief because of the need for isolation. But as with any scary time in my life, I will not let fear dictate my actions or reactions. I will not step away from humanity but instead will step towards it, and search for ways that I can learn to be a better human. We don’t have to be physically together to make someone else’s life better. The need for physical distancing is tremendous, but we can still be social. Think about it, we’ve been training for this moment since the creation of social media. So, while we may be home, sheltered from the storm, we can reach out to strangers across the globe, and suddenly, just like that – we are connected.
I would like to go the rest of my life without ever saying the phrase, “it’s my new normal,” again. I mean, seriously. I’ve adjusted, readjusted, rereadjusted, and rerereadjusted my damn life so many times already. But, when I stop, quiet my ego and irrational side of my brain, I realize – that’s kinda the point to life. If we lived the same day over and over again, if we never experienced sadness or hard times, we would never be able to appreciate the good. If we never had to pick up the broken pieces of a shattered existence, we would never feel the pride of putting our lives back together in a stronger, more evolved way. If we never stop long enough to see the areas of our lives that need work, we would never improve.
We would never appreciate this one and precious life we have been given.
Because of this pandemic, humanity is currently settled into its cocoon. Breaking itself down to be reborn as something new. Just as with the caterpillars – some emerge as moths, but so many will emerge as butterflies. We humans will face this same metamorphosis – some will emerge, and bad and evil will still remain, but so many will reemerge changed into something more beautiful than we ever thought possible.
The earth is silently holding its breath, waiting. Humans have a chance, right now, to do the work needed, and to emerge changed in ways that can only better our existence.
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